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On January 21st, over 50 people, from over 16 organizations, participated in a day long workshop focused on the restoration of river herring – alewives, shad, blue-backs, and sardines – in eastern Maine. Held at the Maine Sea Coast Missions facility in Cherryfield, the event allowed alewife activists to share stories about their fish runs – what has been accomplished and what still needs to be done.
Ed Bassett, GIS and Multimedia Technician for the Tribal Environmental Department, said it best,”The alewife has given to us for thousands of years, now is the time for us to give back to the alewife.”
Ted Ames, retired fisherman, professor, and board of director at Penobscot East Resource Center enriched us all by demonstrating the importance of river herring as a keystone species for restoring groundfish populations. Through his work, he has been able to link the disappearance of the codfish with the decrease in alewife numbers since the 1960s.
While there was plenty of scientific conversation surrounding alewives, there was an even greater emphasis on community support and engagement for successful fishery re-establishment. The watershed by watershed discussion, led by Dwayne Shaw, executive director at Downeast Salmon Federation, gave participants an opportunity to outline the on-going projects and needs of each major river – from the Bagaduce to beyond the border. Each success story was a tale of hope, and underscored the importance of community involvement in achieving results.
The knowledge that so many are working to restore sea run fish was uplifting and many voiced renewed dedication to achieving their goals.
The workshop also created opportunities for groups to collaborate, increasing their effectiveness in restoring sea run fish. This is how “Fishing Forever” will be achieved – one community-based fisheries project at a time.
“I am inspired and even more excited to collaborate with such valuable partners and such a committed group of people and organizations who are turning passion into action,” said Ruth Feldman, Program Director for Island Readers and Writers. “With all of your help, I look forward to designing and implementing a fantastic IRW Alewife themed community event(s) in spring 2016.”
Additional information about the workshop can be found on the Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences website
Photos courtesy of Kyle Winslow, Hatchery Manager at DSF’s East Machias Aquatic Resource Center
A new fishway was recently completed at Pokey Dam on the East Machias River at the outlet of Crawford Lake. In the works for sometime, the state-of the-art fishway will allow over a million alewives to reach 4,500 acres of spawning habitat – and as many as one billion juveniles to pass back downstream to the ocean.
Robin Alden is Executive Director of Penobscot East Resource Center, a non-profit organization she co-founded in 2003, located on the waterfront in Stonington, Maine. In May, 2012, Robin gave a TEDx talk in Portland, ME, outlining her vision for securing a future for fishing communities in eastern Maine. Forever.
Penobscot East Resource Center in partnership with the University of Maine has brought a close to the fifth season of the Eastern Gulf of Maine Sentinel Survey Fishery. The project is designed to monitor groundfish recovery in the area from Penobscot Bay to the Canadian border and up to 45 miles from shore. From June through October 2014, four fishermen set over 93,000 hooks in the water in a combination of longline and jig fishing at both random locations and locations selected by fishermen. Though data are still being analyzed at the University of Maine, this year has shown a small glimmer of hope for cod recovery in eastern Maine. Though total catch was still very low, cod were present at twice as many stations this year compared to years’ past. Halibut catch was also much stronger this year. We expect to see more conclusions in the upcoming analysis, as well as important data regarding age structures and feeding patterns of this year’s catch. These offshore and near-shore monitoring efforts in the vicinity of the Penobscot and St. Croix rivers will offer important insight into ecosystem recovery over the next 3-5 years.
Captain Matt Trundy and stern man Lucas Trundy jig fishing for ground fish, aboard the Savannah Jane, Stonington, ME
The Downeast Salmon Federation’s Atlantic Salmon initiative receives attention from The Boston Globe! With help from hundreds of volunteers, 140,000 juvenile endangered Atlantic Salmon were able to be marked with a visual identifier and released into the East Machias watershed. Downeast Salmon Federation is working to restore this great species back into Maine’s rivers and heritage.